Cal Plan

cal-planThe California Plan (Cal Plan) is a four-year self-study program designed to establish a standard of knowledge for the teaching of music. The full curriculum benefits teachers with limited experience who are pursuing MTAC Membership, plus it offers greater understanding of music and the arts, an incentive to explore new areas of growth, and an opportunity to strengthen professional skills. Teachers who complete the program are awarded the California Plan certificate during the annual State Convention.


  • Teachers pursuing MTAC membership
  • Provisional Members qualifying for Active membership
  • Active MTAC Members continuing their own education


The Cal Plan curriculum consists of study in five academic subject areas and a program of vocational experience for teachers and their students.

Academic Subject Areas

  • Music Theory
  • 18th – 20th Century Harmonic Practices
  • Form and Analysis
  • Music History
  • Pedagogy

Vocational Experience

  • The Cal Plan Member must attend concerts, workshops, State Convention, and study privately with an approved instructor
  • The Cal Plan Member must enter two or more students in Certificate of Merit®

Cal Plan Membership Requirements

  • Currently teaching professionally in your preferred instrument
  • Successful completion of entrance audition
  • Sufficient mastery of the primary instrument equal to an early advanced level (Certificate of Merit® Level 9)
  • Completion of 36 private one-hour lessons in the primary instrument
  • Participation in the Certificate of Merit® (CM) program
  • Attendance of two annual MTAC Conventions (includes discount)
  • Ability to study music history, theory and pedagogy independently

Application Process

After determining that Cal Plan is suitable for you by reviewing the requirements above, you will need to apply following the instructions and meeting the deadlines listed below. It is very important that you follow the steps by the deadlines in order to qualify for required programs. Application for Cal Plan membership involves three phases:

  1. Preparing for your entrance audition by selecting repertoire from the list included on the “Cal Plan Repertoire Requirements for Audition” document and submitting your selections for approval using the “Cal Plan Repertoire Approval Form ”. (We strongly recommend completing this between January and April to allow sufficient time to prepare and schedule your audition; late auditions may not qualify for Certificate of Merit.)
  2. After your audition repertoire has been approved, you will need to submit a “Cal Plan Audition Request Form(available through the MTAC State Office), with audition fee, by the April 30 deadline.  The Cal Plan Chair will schedule your audition with you; you will need to have completed and passed your audition by the May 31 deadline.
  3. Once a successful audition has been confirmed, you will need to submit a “Cal Plan Membership Application Form(available through the MTAC State Office) along with payment of all application fees by July 31. You must meet the final application deadline of July 31 in order to participate in Certificate of Merit®, a Cal Plan requirement.

For assistance with Cal Plan membership applications, you may contact Alicia Wilson at the State Office.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How do I know if Cal Plan is right for me or if I’m qualified?
A. Here are the basic criteria for Cal Plan:

  • You do not have a Bachelor’s Degree  (or higher) in Music
  • You do not have enough points to join MTAC as a Provisional Member
  • You are unable to provide qualifying documentation for your musical training
  • You are currently teaching music in your preferred instrument

Q. What will I need to participate as a Cal Plan member?
To successfully participate in Cal Plan membership, you will need the following:

  • Sufficient mastery of the primary instrument equal to an early advanced level (Certificate of Merit® Level 9)
  • Willingness to perform in a private audition to demonstrate instrument proficiency
  • Ability to complete 36 private one-hour lessons in the primary instrument
  • Self-motivation to complete the four-year program of independent study
  • Ability to independently read texts and take exams successfully within the four-year membership term
  • Currently teaching students in your primary instrument
  • Willingness and ability to participate in the Certificate of Merit® (CM) program (participation in CM is a Cal Plan requirement)
  • Willingness to attend a minimum of two annual MTAC Conventions (at discounted rate)

Q. Are there courses to take?
A. No; all study is done by the individual.

Q. How do I apply?
A. Please contact the State Office ( for forms and information. To apply you will need to review the “Cal Plan Repertoire Requirements for Audition” document and select your proposed repertoire for the audition; please list your selections on the “Cal Plan Repertoire Approval Form”, and submit the completed form to the State Office, as instructed on the form.

Once your repertoire is approved, and you are prepared to audition, you will then submit the “Cal Plan Audition Request Form” (available from the State Office after repertoire approval) along with the audition fee. You will be contacted to setup an audition time.  Upon confirmation that you have passed the audition, you will then submit the “Cal Plan Application Form”,(available from the State Office once your repertoire is approved) along with the following fees: State Dues, Branch Dues (vary by Branch – see “Fees and Dues List” for rates by location), non-refundable application fee (Please see current “Fees and Dues List” for rates) . All forms and payments must be sent to the MTAC State Office at the address on the forms. Please do not submit payments to the Cal Plan Chair, evaluators, or Branch; please use printed checks with current address made payable to “MTAC”.

Q.  Are there deadlines for application?
A.  If you plan to participate in the next Certificate of Merit®, you must meet the following deadlines:

  • April 30 – Submission of “Audition Request Form” (for approved repertoire only)
  • May 31 – Successful completion and evaluation of audition
  • July 31 – Submission of “Cal Plan Membership Application” with payment

While you may apply at any time, please note that we do not make exceptions to deadlines for programs such as Certificate of Merit®, nor do we prorate membership dues. Additionally, Cal Plan members are required to participate in Certificate of Merit® for a minimum of two years.

Q.  What are the Program expenses?
A.  After you are approved for Cal Plan membership, in addition to annual State and Branch Dues each exam is $40.00. Other expenses include textbooks, which may be purchased new or used, and attendance at two MTAC Annual Conventions (Cal Plan Members receive discounted registration rates). Syllabi and other Certificate of Merit® materials are offered at the store for a discounted member rate through the Teacher Home Page.

The California Plan Handbook describes the program in detail and is available from the MTAC State Office, or you may purchase a copy from our online store.

For more information, contact:

Alicia Wilson, Member Services Associate